Steampunk: An Explanation Part 1

Every so often, I throw out the term “steampunk” to my parents. I’m so used to the term that I expect others to know what it means as well, and no matter my explanation, my parents never fully understand what it is. That’s why I started Steampunk: An Explanation for my Parents, a three-part series outlining the basics of the steampunk genre.

Part 1 – Steampunk in the Media

As an introduction, I will review a bunch of steampunk movies and books with which I think my parents are familiar. This is to show that steampunk is not new and thus nothing to be worried about.


Warner Bros. 2002

The Time Machine:

New York City – 1899
Alexander Hartdegen is an inventor and college professor determined to prove time travel is possible. When a personal tragedy drives him over the edge, Alexander is consumed by his work until he finally finishes a time machine. However, he is still unable to save his sweetheart, and he sends himself into the future where he encounters an outpost of humanity where New York City used to be. There, he encounters monsters evolved from events hundreds of years after his original time.

Based on the book by H.G. Wells, which is also steampunk.

Warner Bros. 2009

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes and his partner Dr. Watson have finally captured the elusive Lord Blackwood, who is sentenced to a hanging. In the wake of his apparent death, Blackwood returns from the dead to resume his killing spree. Now it’s up to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to untangle the knot of political scandal and black magic before Blackwood takes over Parliament.

Based on the stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

20th Century Fox, 2003

The League of Extraordinary Gentleman

(from IMDB): Renowned adventurer Allan Quatermain leads a team of extraordinary figures with legendary powers to battle the technological terror of a madman known as “The Fantom.” This “League” comprises seafarer/inventor Captain Nemo, vampiress Mina Harker, an invisible man named Rodney Skinner, American secret service agent Tom Sawyer, the ageless and invincible Dorian Gray, and the dangerous split personality of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde.

Disney, 2001

Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Milo Thatch believes Atlantis is real. Working in a boiler room under a museum, there is no way he could get the funding for his own expedition. But then he is introduced to Preston B. Whitmore, an old friend of Milo’s grandfather, who is not only willing to fund the expedition, but already has a crew assembled! It’s only when they reach Atlantis that Milo realizes the crew has more than exploration on their minds.

Steampunk Books

Simon Pulse, released 2010

 Leviathan, Behemoth, Goliath
Scott Westerfeld

(from the website)Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected ways, taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

Tor Books, released 2009

Cherie Priest

Before the Civil War in Seattle, Leviticus Blue invented a drilling machine meant to mine Klondike gold. During its trial run, it unleashes a poisonous gas that turns anyone who breathes it into zombies. Now Seattle is surrounded by walls meant to keep the zombies and the dense gas that accompanies them contained. Sixteen years later, Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes, is trying to make it with a ruined reputation and her teenage son Ezekiel to care for. In an attempt to rewrite history, Ezekiel sneaks into Seattle, and his mother is the only one who can save him.


3 thoughts on “Steampunk: An Explanation Part 1

  1. Pingback: College Planning Helps « Mission Possible


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